Mapping the self-custody wallet ecosystem for digital assets. (Non-custodial)

SSI Ambassador
5 min readOct 17, 2019

In order to store and manage digital assets one requires a wallet application. These wallets can be separated in two categories:

Don’t store large investment amounts on custodial wallet solutions! You might lose it!

Custodial: You are owner, but not possessor — A third party stores the private keys for you.

Self-custody / non-custodial: You have full ownership, possession and responsibility.

This blog post aims to provide an overview of the different wallet solutions, which help users to own their keys. All of the illustrated wallets (besides smart contract wallets) provide you with a backup option. This can be a private key or a recovery phrase (also referred to as “mnemonic seed”). Make sure to backup your wallet properly before you use it! You can find the industry-map in 4K resolution here.

Do your own research about the trustworthiness of the wallet provider before you use it! This video helps to evaluate important criteria.

The wallet providers are listed randomly within their categories. You can use the search function of your browser to find the link of a certain provider within this post. (Command or STRG + F).

Overview of all categories of self-custody wallets for digital assets

Hardware Wallets:
Special hardware protects the private key. Most of the time the hardware is connected to another device via bluetooth or USB. Should you initiate a transaction you need to sign it with your private key. A hardware wallet does this for you and only communicates the signed transaction. Hence, your private key never leaves the device, which makes it the most secure option to store digital assets for individuals. Should your investment be greater than the equivalent of 1.000 Euro we highly recommend the purchase of one of these devices.

Self-custody hardware wallets for digital assets

Hardware wallets:

Phones and point of sale solutions (POS): (PoS)

Other Hardware: Turn your old phone into a hardware wallet, DIY — Raspberry Pi,

Self-custody mobile wallets for digital assets


To download a wallet application from the app- or play-store is the easiest way to get started. A lot of these wallets even offer the direct purchase of certain cryptocurrencies via an integrated credit card purchase. This is referred to as “fiat-onramp”.

Three categories of self-custody mobile wallets: WEB3, Smart contract and regular (non-web3)

There are three major categories of mobile wallets:

WEB3 Wallets: Exhibit all regular functions as well as a dapp browser to access decentralized applications.

Smart contract wallets: Live as a program on the blockchain instead of providing the user with a public and private key pair.

Regular “non-WEB3” wallets: Key management application for the management of digital assets such as BTC, LTC, ETH, ERC20 etc.
Functions include: send, receive, trade(crypto to crypto via decentralized exchanges (DEX) and fiat to crypto (e.g. euro to BTC)) and more.

All of these wallets are available for iOS and Android:,

Mobile (Android only): (Eclair wallet — Bitcoin lightning)

Mobile (iOS only):

Smart contract:

These wallets don’t require a seed phrase or gas payments. They offer unique features such as:

  • Social recovery through trusted contacts or devices
  • Rate-limited withdraws
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Personal whitelists and blacklists
  • Fraud alerts and emergency lockdown

Wallet Recovery with smart contracts:
‘Guardians’, how they are called in Argent, are people and devices that you trust to protect you if your phone is lost or stolen. Should you lose access to your wallet you can trigger a social recovery process to restore their funds if the majority of their backups agree.


Both Opera and Brave have an integrated cryptocurrency wallet too.


While there is also an mobile version of metamask, the browser add-on is still the to-go application to communicate with decentralized services and applications for many users.


There are several providers of software wallets for your desktop device. Atomic wallet for example offer their wallet software for the operating systems: Windows, Mac, Debian, Ubuntu and Fedora. Not all providers support all different operating systems. Do your own research.

While there is no clear consensus on which solution is more secure — desktop or mobile — most security experts tend to mobile wallets, since most of them leverage special security architecture, which isn’t used on desktop devices. (Multi-sig)

Full node:

A full node stores the full history of all transactions, which happened on the (Bitcoin, Ethereum, ...) network. It helps the network to stay resilient against attacks and grants a user full autonomy by authoritatively reconciling with his own copy of the ledger to determine whether the funds have been double spend or are available in the first place. Running a full node grants the operator complete control of their money, since the soft-, hardware and transaction data are under control of the user. by @LukeDashjr (twitter)

Other: within telegram available via the web and “lives” in the browser .

Should you search for a specific function or characteristic of a certain Ethereum wallet this google sheet will help. However, for beginners is better suited to get an overview.

Hodl helper (Rebranded as SSI-Ambassador)
Adrian Doerk
Own your keys



SSI Ambassador

Educational content about self-sovereign identity with focus on Europe. Content by Adrian Doerk